Copa América Centenario – Groups C and D Preview

June 2, 2016

On the eve of Copa América Centenario’s start, an NBA Finals rematch has captured the attention of many in the United States and around the world. The undersized Stephan Curry and Golden State Warriors will take on the more physical LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a way, both groups that will be covered in this preview share similar traits with the basketball series.

Without giving away too much of the content below, let’s take a look at the final two groups of this year’s Copa América.

Why to Watch These Groups

Rematches of Previous Year’s Copa and Gold Cup Finals

This is the part that Copa shares with the NBA Finals. In Group C, 2015 Gold Cup champion Mexico will face runner-up Jamaica. In Group D, an epic battle from last year’s Copa América will ensue when champion Chile takes on runner-up Argentina in the first match for the two squads. It may not sound like much being only Group Stage games, but it’s difficult to erase the memories of just a year ago. Jamaica was a huge underdog going into the Gold Cup final and was easily dispatched by Mexico. Argentina was so close to beating Chile, the tournament hosts, but succumbed to defeat on penalties.

Revenge is one factor, but so is the chance to help send the other nation packing before the Knockout Round even begins. There isn’t much in soccer more disappointing for a squad than getting so close one year, only to be so far away the next. Expect the rematches to be a couple of the more emotional games of the tournament as the teams are very familiar with each other when the stakes are high.

Lionel Messi

It may be cliché to feature an individual in reasons to watch (he’s only playing in three of the combined 12 games between these two groups), but if Sports Illustrated’s article about him last week is true, then Messi is just as excited to be in the United States as we are to host him. The 28-year old, who is dealing with some off the field issues currently, is also looking to bring Argentina its first major title since 1993. In a country where only the true soccer superstars are recognized by the masses, what better place to do it?

La Albiceleste has finished runner-up in its past two tournaments (World Cup 2014 and Copa 2015), so the excuses for anything less than a first place finish won’t fly with the fans back home. If Argentina is to win this tournament, then Messi will need to step up in a big way. He is in his prime and playing in a country that even the best players in the world are fascinated by. Expect the unexpected with him over the course of the next month – he is the tournament’s biggest star looking to bring his country something that hasn’t been captured since he was a boy.

Games to Watch

Argentina vs. Chile (Monday, June 6 @ 10 PM ET – Santa Clara, CA)

On the heels of the tournament opener featuring the United States, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara gets perhaps the biggest match of the entire tournament. Argentina is the top dog in the FIFA rankings and Chile comes in at No. 5. As mentioned in the earlier section, this is also a rematch of last year’s Copa final. Star power will be on full display on both sides of the pitch, as Argentina has made it clear of its intention to try to break through after heartbreaks in the past two big tournaments.

If the fans are lucky, then both defenses will have trouble with the speed of the attacks. But if last year’s final is any suggestion, then defense will play an integral role in the outcome of this match. Neither team scored an actual goal in that game, so the hope would be that a different tune rings out in the 2016 edition of this South American showdown.

Mexico vs. Uruguay (Sunday, June 5 @ 8 PM ET – Phoenix, AZ)

Despite not being the literal host country for this tournament, Mexico will feel like one when it plays its Group Stage games. Only one of its games is outside of the Southwestern United States, and none will be more important to have a home crowd atmosphere than the one against group favorite Uruguay. Luis Suarez is used to the noise (and boos) playing at Barcelona, but it will be imperative that Mexico keep him off the ball as much as possible.

El Tri is unbeaten in 2016, but Uruguay has been no slouch recently, either – the nation is currently at the top of CONMEBOL in the 2018 World Cup qualifying table. These are two teams playing well and with the belief that they could be a dark horse to win this tournament, which makes this game one worth watching in its entirety.


Group C

1. Uruguay – 7 points

Always somewhat of a wild card in major tournaments, Uruguay is good enough to outscore the competition en route to a first place finish in Group C.

2. Mexico – 6 points

Playing so close to home (games in Phoenix, Pasadena and Houston) could very well propel Mexico to the top of the group. Anticipate crowds heavily in favor of El Tri in all three matches.

3. Jamaica – 4 points

A crowd favorite in just about any athletic competition, Jamaica will have its hands full with the two 2014 World Cup contenders. Athletic ability gives them a chance to surprise, however.

4. Venezuela – 0 points

The 0 points is probably going to be wrong – Venezuela isn’t that bad. But it’s highly unlikely that the nation will play past the Group Stage.

Group D

1. Argentina – 9 points

The top team in FIFA’s rankings will exact revenge on Chile, and from there it will only get easier.

2. Chile – 6 points

A loss to Argentina in the opening match will be disappointing, but not enough so to shatter the confidence of this squad. Alexis Sanchez will be difficult to stop for the others in the group.

3. Panama – 1 point

Going up against three CONMEBOL opponents will be tough for the lone CONCACAF nation in Group D.

4. Bolivia – 1 point

It hasn’t been a very pretty last 12 months for La Verde – one victory since last year’s Copa. Unfortunately, the trend isn’t going to suddenly change in this group.

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